Customer Story

How Productsup uses Swarmia to support team leads and speed up software delivery

Productsup Senior Vice President of Engineering, Roland Fiala, and Director of Engineering, Carsten Neuendorf, are using Swarmia to help their highly-skilled engineers deliver better software faster.

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cycle time

69%

throughput

51%

review time

38%

The Productsup product-to-consumer (P2C) platform processes over two trillion products a month, empowering long-term business success as the only global, strategic, scalable platform managing all product-to-consumer information value chains across any platform, any channel, any technology.

When Productsup SVP of Engineering, Roland Fiala, first heard about Swarmia in late 2020, he was leading an organization of 20 software engineers split across a few teams. As the company grew, the Productsup engineering organization decided to transition from Kanban to Scrum to create more structure.

When we were small, Kanban was the ideal choice as it allowed us to simply work on the highest priorities. But as soon as the team grew, I no longer had a clear overview of everything.
Roland Fiala
SVP of Engineering

And to make the engineering organization's work visible to the business, Roland started to report on three key metrics:

  1. Lead time for features
  2. Bug fix time
  3. The ratio of fixed bugs vs. new bugs

Roland also recognized that hiring, promoting, and training new team leads was going to be one of the biggest challenges he would have to solve in the near future.

It's not easy to find the right tools to empower team leads. To set them up for success, I wanted to give them full transparency into what’s going on within their teams. With Swarmia, my team leads can better manage the people and projects they work with.
Roland Fiala
SVP of Engineering

The solution: enabling team leads to run better retrospectives and proactively remove blockers

When Roland and his team started looking into different solutions, they wanted to find a tool that would help them report on key performance metrics, provide an overview of what's going on in the department, and enable team leads to proactively identify and remove blockers.

After comparing LinearB and Swarmia, Roland and his team came to the conclusion that Swarmia was better suited for their needs. The Productsup team was particularly excited about Swarmia's approach to continuous improvement through the use of self-configurable working agreements.

And when Carsten Neuendorf, Director of Engineering, joined Productsup in April 2021, he started supporting team retrospectives and weekly check-ins using insights from Swarmia.

We have a team check-in every Monday morning where we go over the working agreements we've set in Swarmia and discuss any possible exceptions. We're also using Swarmia in our team retrospectives to see how different tasks are moving forward.
Carsten Neuendorf
Director of Engineering

Overall, Roland and Carsten have been slowly rolling out Swarmia across the engineering organization. In addition to the product itself, Roland and Carsten praise the close partnership and the Swarmia team's openness to receiving and actioning product feedback and feature requests.

The results: 69% decrease in cycle time and 38% decrease in review time

With the help of Swarmia, Carsten's team was able to cut down cycle time by 69% and increase throughput by 51% within four weeks.

Even more than the impressive numbers, Carsten appreciates the sense of ownership and autonomy that working agreements have brought to his team.

The team members set their own working agreements based on what's relevant and achievable for them. Swarmia reminds each of them if they're about to slip, which takes the pressure off the team lead.
Carsten Neuendorf
Director of Engineering

On the other hand, Roland points out that exceptions in working agreements provide a great opportunity for engineering managers to help unblock issues. When a manager notices an exception, such as a stale pull request, they're able to check in with team members and start important conversations that can improve product quality and collaboration within the team.

Ultimately, Roland believes that Swarmia has helped him gain the transparency and visibility he was after.

Swarmia gives us the perfect overview of engineering productivity. From the Insights page, I can quickly see how we’re doing in terms of cycle time and pull requests, which helps me report back to the business.
Roland Fiala
SVP of Engineering

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